Today’s Buzzword is Augmented Reality – But is it a Gimmick or Legitimately Impactful?

Recently, the media seems to be saturated with articles, tweets, and overarching news on the topic of augmented reality and its impending penetration into a myriad of markets. Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality are all frequently used buzzwords that seem to intimidate many as they promise to disrupt almost every industry imaginable. But what exactly are these new technologies and why are they important?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Augmented Reality as an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device. Those are a lot of big words that can fall on deaf ears due to the lack of communication and, with the prevalence of the technology on the horizon, it is important for consumers, managers, marketers, and developers alike to know what is coming their way and how to take full advantage of the new tech. The potential power of AR is exciting as markets gear up to take on this new tech. To show the potential scope of the technology, the augmented reality market is projected to potentially have a $29.5 million impact by 2020, and companies are beginning to shift their operations in preparation for the adoption of the tech and keep up with the shift:statistic_id615968_global-economic-impact-from-virtual-and-augmented-reality-technology-2016-2020.png

In addition to this projected economic power that augmented reality will have in the U.S. market, the tech will influence a myriad of industries as shown in the following graph:

statistic_id610126_projected-user-base-of-global-augmented-and-vr-software-by-segment-2020-2025.png

Augmented reality promises disruption in many fields, from medical procedures and healthcare to operations management to even retail as we learned through @fernanfu ‘s awesome presentation a few weeks ago. However, I see the largest opportunity for AR education to be in regards to how companies can benefit from interacting with the average consumer using AR.

Take snapchat for example. Snapchat has been able to maintain a certain level of digital maturity by adapting to new disruptive tech and strategically positioning its business to appeal to its consumers as an entertainment and news platform. Often ahead of the game and quick to capitalize on new consumer trends, Snapchat has made a name for itself in the digital space.

I recently read an article posted just yesterday, October 2nd,  on how snapchat is bringing augmented reality into their app: Snapchat to launch augmented reality art platform tomorrow (https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/snapchat-art/) The launching of this tech is positioned with a partnership with many artiststo present artificial art that can be seen only through Snapchat, in line with Snapchat’s philosophy of “reinventing the camera, representing [their] greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”dlkkfznwsaigon.jpgscreenshot2017-05-01at3-08-33pm-1.png

dlkjcwnv4aepgkx.png(https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/02/snapchat-art/)

The launch of the tech will marry the snapchat map feature with the augmented reality by placing the “art” in various places around the world for snapchat users to find. With this launch, pop artists such as Jeff Koons and others are able to be featured on a powerful platform with a global audience while snapchat users are able to experience augmented reality first hand.

While I do not want to underestimate the “cool” factor of being able to see art artificially placed art, and the worldwide connection that artists are able to make with an audience because of AR, there is an aspect of the new tech that seems, for lack of a better word, gimmicky. I can’t help but think that this fad will last as long as Pokémon Go, taking the world by storm for a few weeks and retreating to the back of everyones mind and deleted off of their phones. How much value does viewing an artificial sculpture actually bring to a consumer, artist, or company. What value does augmented reality actually bring to a platform such a snapchat? Because of this relatively preconceived notion that I had regarding augmented reality, I did a little more digging to see where the impact in an average consumers life can be.

I stumbled upon an article that seemed to answer my question: ARAD helps developers get ads in their augmented reality apps. (https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/17/arad-helps-developers-get-ads-in-their-augmented-reality-apps/) ARAD presents itself as a way for app developers to monetize their product/service through augmented reality ads. Having to bridge the gap between being impactful with advertising without being too invasive with the AR. An example of how the platform works is shown below.gallery.jpg

While ARAD is currently geared to game developers, I see opportunity for this tech to spread into snapchat and potentially other social platforms. Augmented reality advertising is a way to monetize and a way to, in my opinion, legitimize the use of augmented reality for companies and consumers alike. Instead of just a gimmick that captures consumer attention for a week or two, advertisements can become targeted to benefit both sides of any business platform and use this cool new tech to its fullest advantage. Being able to use augmented reality to influence daily lives in more constructive ways than mere entertainment is incredibly exciting for advertisers, businesses, and consumers.

We’re all watching closely this new technology and what Augmented Reality really means for our world in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Hopefully we can find a way in which to take full advantage of the technology available to us and, in turn, transform the world around us.

7 comments

  1. I think this is a really interesting post and I really appreciate you bringing some more clarity to the buzzword that is Augmented Reality. I couldn’t agree more with you on SnapChat’s new use of this map + AR art feature. I can see it being really popular initially, but then its usage will slow down as the fad dies out. I think that AR will start to have a place in the retail and consumer product industries. I think it would be smart for companies to use this technology as a way for consumers to almost “test” their products before actually having to buy them.

  2. I’m a big proponent of AR, but I think it’s a LONG way off from being reality. It’s a bit older now, but the books Daemon and Freedom(tm) by Suarez are the ones that convinced me. This video is also a bit dated, but still interesting https://vimeo.com/46304267. I think the most important feature of augmented reality will be the ability to shift between “channels” of digital content depending on how you are interacting with the world at the moment.

  3. AR is certainly a huge buzzword right now and the only people who truly have a good sense of it so far are video game designers since certain functionalities have already been prevalent in video games. We’d have to sit back a while to see what true benefits it’ll have. On a side note, Toys R Us is trying to revive their stores by using AR to turn it into a digital playground: https://www.engadget.com/2017/10/02/toys-r-us-unveils-augmented-reality-app/

  4. I am still skeptical on AR. I think this is part of the apps of the future, in gaming, retail, video or digital marketing as seen above, but as we all saw on the keynote from Apple, the game they are launching, is for me gimmick. The Video Game is a gigantic industry and probably, is growing at a pace like no other industry. But is AR really changing the scenario on new games? New consoles? New content?
    I don’t agree that much on the Snapchat article. I think that art is physical for a reason, to go to the place and look at it live. If I wanted to check the Mona Lisa digitally I will go online, nothing like being in Paris in Louvre Museum and looking at The Mona Lisa’s eye. I agree with Taylor, this may be a huge buzz for a couple of weeks and then it will start decreasing.
    I am interested and excited to see hat AR is going to be but in at least 5 years I think. When I can buy things with AR, or I can try on hats, clothes, sunglasses. Something that makes our lives easier, convenient and efficient. In the mean while only one or two apps that show me things, Pokemon’s or play a bad game are in market, I don’t think this Technology will sky rocket to a new industry.

  5. Great, post! I agree that although this is a major trend and is talked about all the time, I don’t think, right now, that there is a big enough relationship with users and AR for companies to only focus on AR when it comes to advertising and marketing. I know our generation is tech savvy, but there are a lot of people that will chose to avoid this, find it annoying, or invasive especially for more traditional things like an art gallery as you mentioned.

    Until it adds value that wasn’t there before, AR won’t stick. Thanks for sharing Michaela!

  6. The Snapchat augmented reality featuring the bitmojis has been my favorite feature yet. Thanks to the new iPhone X, these new features will become even more enhanced and hopefully create a new space for more companies to promote through Snap. Loved your statista charts, especially the projected economic impact chart. It will very eye-opening.

  7. I am somewhat surprised to see artists interested in showcasing their work on Snapchat, but I suppose it is simply a new platform for art where millions will gain exposure to. Not sure I am on board for reasons similar to @cummingdiego.

    Regardless of personal opinion on the technology, AR will be widely implemented and make, even lowballing the growth, a $5.8 billion impact on the economy. Thanks for the great statistics and clarification on the matter!

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